Dad's anger over son's brain injury ordeal
For Chris Griffin, the evening of Good Friday 2017 was meant to be a fun night out in Morecambe with friends.
But then the 21 year-old from Heysham was brutally assaulted and left in a coma with a severe brain injury.
Before the attack, Chris was a strapping young lad of 6ft 7in and 16 stone.
The former Heysham High School pupil worked as a scaffolder and went to the gym every day. But since the assault he has lost five stones, struggles to eat, drink and talk properly and has little or no short-term memory.
Six months on, he remains in hospital. His dad Mark is distraught after watching his son deteriorate before his eyes - and furious because he says he’s been “let down” by medical care and the police.
Chris’ attackers have never been brought to justice. No arrests have been made and police said enquiries are ongoing.
Mr Griffin also criticised the care his son has received in a specialist centre for people with highly complex brain injuries.
Chris had a fall there last week and banged his injured head, suffering a blood clot which required surgery.
Mark said his son’s recovery has been set back “months” by the fall and as we went to press, Chris was unconscious in intensive care after the three-hour operation.
“We’re at our wits’ end,” said Mark.
“I’ve lost faith in everything. This is what happens after a night out drinking. Is this what the country has come to?”
The assault happened in the early hours of Easter Saturday, April 15 when Chris was on the promenade.
“There was a group of people fighting and he was trying to help his friend,” said Mark.
“He was punched, he fell and then somebody jumped on his head.”
Chris was rushed to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary with a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.
He was then taken to the Royal Preston Hospital which specialises in neurosurgery.
“They decided to remove most of his skull and he was in a coma for two weeks,” said Mark.
“Then he came around. He’s a big fan of (boxer) Tyson Fury. So we played him Tyson Fury interviews and they brought him out of his coma. Tyson is his hero.
“He started walking and talking and getting back to himself, more or less. He was doing a lot better than they expected.”
Chris was eventually moved back to the RLI to continue his recovery.
“He had a security team looking after him there and he did really well,” said Mark.
“Due to his injury, he could become aggressive and had no concept of safety, so it was in case he wandered off. But then he had a mini-escape at the end of June. He got out and went to KFC.”
After this incident, Chris was transferred again, this time to the neuro-rehabilitation unit at Royal Preston.
But in recent months, Mark said Chris has “gone downhill”.
Mark said: “They haven’t looked after him. I’ve complained and complained. I’m really concerned. It’s because of cutbacks. The NHS is at the brink and it will end up killing my son.”
Karen Partington, Chief Executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Firstly we are deeply sorry for the additional distress that the family are going through.
“Our Neurorehabilitation unit provides specialist care for patients with brain injuries who generally have very complex needs.
“We are working closely with Christopher’s family to resolve any issues and we are committed to listening, learning and putting things right. We are carrying out a full investigation and will continue to involve Christopher’s family in keeping them informed and planning for his care going forward.”
A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: “We received a safeguarding alert relating to Mr Griffin’s care in August. One of our social workers liaised with the hospital’s safeguarding team, who we asked to carry out an internal enquiry into his care. We made a number of recommendations for the hospital. The enquiry has now been closed.”